The violence seems to be everywhere you look. Overseas the government slaughters millions of innocent men, women, and children. At home the police murder people in their homes, in their cars, and in the streets. Millions are arrested and imprisoned, kidnapped, and caged, for vice and not crimes. Protests and riots seem endemic all across the nation. Prices continue to rise, driving the middle class into poverty and the poor into destitution. Hatred seems to be increasing nonstop, destroying families and friendships in the process.
Everywhere people look the see the breakdown of society that is the final outcome of the State and many are asking hard questions about the future. They want to know where we go from here and how do we get there. And it is in this that we see the cataclysm of society.
Everyone wants the same goals- a better, more prosperous, and fruitful society for all. The gulf between the people is based less on a difference in goals and more about how they respond to their fears. In both cases, the only solution they know is based on the very source of all the problems. Those calling for police crackdowns are responding to the conditioning of the State that has taught them their entire lives that the police are there to protect you and that if you are in danger, you should call the police. Those marching in the streets are wanting to seize the levers of power for themselves and turn the machinery of control to their own devices and enforce their beliefs through the violence of the State. In doing so, both sides perpetuate a deadly error and make the same fatal mistake. They look to the very thing that has wrought so much destruction to be their Savior. But this will never work. The government cannot save you.
Not the least reason this will never work is because violence is a game that the State excels at playing. Violence is the State’s game. It exists to sow discontent, hatred, and malice between the various members of society, to set them at odds with one another, and to reap the rewards of wealth and power it can extort from the people by presenting itself as the solution to the ills it either entirely creates or exacerbates beyond measure. As we’ve discussed before, through the instrumentalities of taxation and the legal system, those in power set up an endless War of All Against All, whereby those who would naturally have no conflict are brought into political, social, and often literal, combat by the State, which then uses this violence as evidence that it must exist in order to dominate the people for the “common safety and common good.” All violence, no matter how “justified” will only be co-opted to prove that the state is needed now more than ever before. If we are going to counter the State’s evils we have to divest ourselves of its methods, we have to stop doing what justifies its very existence.
We have to embrace nonviolence.
Don’t react violently against the one who is evil (Matthew 5:39)
The entire Myth of the State is based on the methods of violence- that violence justifies violence in return. So, if you want to undermine the actions of the State you have to undermine that which gives it the power it has and by doing so you steal from it not only its justification, but its power. When these are taken from it, the States’s disguise is ripped away and instead of Protector, its true identity as Oppressor is revealed. Said simply, it is easy for the propagandists of the government to make a man defending himself against the police look like he is the aggressor, therefore justifying the violence and brutality of the police in the first place. Actually, being the aggressor is just doing their work for them.
When they cannot paint you as the aggressor, when there is no way for them to portray you as a violent criminal or thug because you refuse to engage in violence, then there is no way for them to justify their brutality. The thing that set so many off about the murder of George Floyd a few years back was exactly because he was not resisting. Not only could he not fight back, but he also wasn’t fighting back, and never had fought back. So, when the police murdered him, it ripped away the masks of the police and revealing them for the militarized thugs that they truly are. And people reacted powerfully to that image. Millions rose in open defiance of the State and its enforcers exactly because of that power. This is the power of nonviolence. When focused by the right ideas to right ends, then it is unstoppable.
The nonviolent activist allows his body, her pain, and their suffering to be the vehicle of the message of peace and revelation. Revelation because it reveals the brutal truth of how the State operates. Peace because once this brutality is revealed people turn against it and seek to create a better way, a way that eliminates the revealed evil, which carries us forward on the path of peace to reconciliation. As Mahatma Gandhi explained:
“Suffering is infinitely more powerful than the law of the jungle for converting the opponent and opening his ears, which are otherwise shut, to the voice of reason. Nobody has probably drawn up more petitions or espoused more forlorn causes than I, and I have come to this fundamental conclusion that, if you want something really important to be done, you must not merely satisfy the reason, you must move the heart also. The appeal of reason is more to the head, but the penetration of the heart comes from suffering. It opens up the inner understanding in man. Suffering is the badge of the human race, not the sword.”
Humans are powerfully emotional creatures and often no matter how factual your argument is – no matter how you can manipulate the data to make your side seem to be the one best supported by the evidence- it is the emotional argument that wins hearts and therefore wins the day. Gandhi knew this nearly a century ago and nonviolence was how he took advantage of this truth to win supporters to his cause. If we want to win supporters to our cause, we must do the same. We must renounce our own violence, therefore robbing the police and the State of its justification propaganda. And we must be willing to suffer. If we accept the violence of the State without being violent in return, it will expose the evils of their actions and open people’s hearts to our message and convert them to our cause.
Powerful as nonviolence is in removing from us the fear that those in power thrive on and in transforming the minds and hearts of our enemies, it is only half the program. The other half, the one that forces people in power to actually change their program, is non-compliance – the absolute refusal to obey unjust laws or to answer to unjust authority. This we will explore in more detail next edition.
“The fundamental political question is why do people obey a government. The answer is that they tend to enslave themselves, to let themselves be governed by tyrants. Freedom from servitude comes not from violent action, but from the refusal to serve. Tyrants fall when the people withdraw their support.” - Etienne de La Boetie, Philosopher (1530)